The novel coronavirus emerged in the central China city of Wuhan towards the end of last year and proliferated to almost the whole world within a couple of months. It’s not the virulence or fatality, but the infectivity of the new virus – also known as SARS-CoV-2 – that has set off a global frenzy.
The Covid-19 respiratory illness caused by this mysterious contagion has so far infected more than 2.3 million people in 202 countries and territories of the world – more than 161,000 of them have died and counting.
Pakistan, despite its close proximity with China, remained coronavirus-free until February 26 when a young man from Karachi tested positive after returning from Iran – one of the worst-hit countries. After a brief hiatus following the first case, Covid-19 cases spiked as more pilgrims returning from Iran tested positive for the virus.
The nationwide tally of Covid-19 patients stands at 8,275 with 3,686 cases in Punjab, 2,537 in Sindh, 1,137 in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, 432 in Balochistan, 263 in Gilgit-Baltistan, 171 in Islamabad, and 49 in Azad Jammu and Kashmir.
The virus has claimed 168 lives while at least 1,868 coronavirus patients have recovered.
The number of cases has continued to soar despite the country being under lockdown for the third consecutive week.
The situation remains fluid and we’re updating stats as soon as new figures are officially released.
Follow The Express Tribune’s live coverage of the pandemic here.
1:10am: CAA announces new health policy for passengers
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has announced a new health policy for passengers who would be travelling until April 30 amid the coronavirus pandemic in the country.
According to the CAA, all standard operating procedures (SOPs) mentioned in the health forms are to be strictly implemented.
All passengers travelling by air are obligated to submit their health forms, which include information on flu, cold, cough, and sore throat.
The form also states that passengers should enter quarantine if the relevant health officer deems it necessary.
Read full story here
1:00am: Traders’ body gives govt three days to lift coronavirus lockdown
Markazi Tanzeeme Tajiran Pakistan (MTTP) has given a three-day deadline to the government to end the countrywide lockdown imposed to contain the spread of coronavirus.
President of MTTP Kashif Chaudhry said that the traders’ body will be bound to take a decision if the government did not end the lockdown in three days.
“We will not allow the traders to become a victim of the federal and provincial governments’ politics,” he said.
Read more here
12:30am: Six more Covid-19 cases raise G-B’s tally to 263
The Gilgit-Baltistan government has confirmed six more cases of coronavirus to bring the region’s tally to 263.
11:30pm: Asad Umar stresses need for mass social mobilisation to cope with Covid-19
Federal Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar has emphasised the need for mass social mobilistaion to effectively contain the spread of novel coronavirus.
Addressing the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) meeting in Islamabad on Sunday, the minister said that implementation on preventive measures against Covid-19 is the only “best possible tool” to cope with the menace of highly contagious disease.
He also highlighted the need to gather feedback on locally manufactured samples of N-95 masks, saying it is imperative to analyse the capacity and indigenous production of the face masks.
Umar, who is also the head of NCOC, suggested to form an inter-ministerial group of relevant ministries with the Ministry of Industries as its member.
Read details here
11:00PM: Expats donate over Rs100m to PM’s coronavirus fund
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development Sayed Zulfikar Abbas Bukhari has said that over Rs100 million has been donated to the Prime Minister’s Covid-19 Relief Fund by the Pakistani expatriates in response to the website launched by his ministry.
“Over 646,580 dollars (Rs100 million) has been donated by the overseas Pakistanis so far,” said Bukhari, while addressing the Virtual Town Hall Meeting arranged by the Pakistani-Americans to discuss the issues faced by them across the United States amid the coronavirus crisis.
The special session, which was held the other day, was attended by Pakistan’s Ambassador to the US Asad Majeed Khan, Consul General Aysha Ali, Pakistani businessmen, first responders, survivors of the coronavirus and representatives of the US-based Pakistani organisations.
The special assistant said the PM’s corona relief fund has received over Rs2 billion so far, out of which 70 per cent contribution was made by the locals. “The fund has received an unprecedented response from the locals,” he added.
Read our full story here
10:00pm: 56 more people contract coronavirus in Balochistan
At least 56 more people have contracted coronavirus in Balochistan, taking the total number of infections in the province to 432.
According to a statement issued by health department, as many as 154 Covid-19 patients have fully recovered with five deaths reported so far.
The provincial authorities have carried out 5,315 coronavirus tests till today, according to an official data.
9:00pm: Tando Mohammad Khan hospital shut after doctor tests positive for Covid-19
The Indus Medical College and Hospital in Tando Mohammad Khan district has been closed and the staff is put in quarantine after a doctor at the hospital tested positive for the coronavirus.
The elderly doctor, aged 60 years, was shifted to an isolation center after the test report.
An official of the hospital told the local media that around 100 doctors, paramedics, sanitary workers and other staff had been quarantined in the hospital.
Meanwhile, a team of health officials took nasopharyngeal swabs from the quarantined staff on Sunday. The samples will be sent to the Diagnostic and Research Laboratory of Liaquat University of Medical and Health Sciences in Hyderabad for testing.
The hospital, which happens to be the largest private healthcare facility in the district, has stopped providing health services to the public.
8:40pm: 8,678 out of 11,274 Tableeghi Jamaat members test negative for Covid-19 in Punjab
As many as 8,678 out of 11,274 Tableeghi Jamaat members in isolation centres have been tested negative for coronavirus in Punjab, according to Chief Secretary Office.
On the other hand, positive cases of coronavirus among the Jamaat is also swelling as 155 more individuals have been tested positive to bring the total number of positive patients to 1,531.
These tests were being held as part of an SOP that dictates that every individual who is tested before being put in isolation or quarantine is to be tested again before leaving the facility.
According to a briefing in CS office, many Tableeghis have already left for their home towns while arrangements are being made to transport the remaining individuals. These members also included many foreigners.
8:30pm: Over 40 cops quarantined after suspect tests positive for Covid-19 in Hyderabad
Over 40 policemen have been put under quarantine in Hyderabad after an arrested suspect tested positive for coronavirus on Sunday.
Around 33 policemen belonging to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) centre, including CIA DSP Ali Muhammad Mughal and in-charge Inspector Munir Abbassi, have been quarantined. Another 10 policemen of the A-Section police station in Latifabad have also been quarantined at the Trauma Centre.
“They will be tested as per the standard operating procedures and all precautions will be taken till their tests are conducted,” Hyderabad SSP Adeel Hussain Chandio told The Express Tribune.
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7:55pm: Sindh govt finalises SOPs for businesses to continue operations during lockdown
After consulting traders, the Sindh government finalised on Sunday the standard operating procedures (SOPs) for businesses to continue operations during the lockdown.
Sources privy to the meeting held between provincial government representatives and traders revealed that businesses have been classified into three categories, each further divided into four sections except one, which comprised five subsections.
Each sector under every category would be allowed to operate for eight hours twice a week, given that they follow all established SOPs. In case of any violation of the SOPs, the relevant markets or shops would be sealed, according to the sources.
Moreover, under the new guidelines, grocery stores, utility stores and meat shops are to remain closed two days a week and only medical stores, milk shops and bakeries have been permitted to operate through the week.
Read our full story here
7:30pm: Fishing activities to resume with strict safety measures
Fishermen will be allowed to resume fishing activities and the sale of fish at the Karachi Fish Harbour under strict safety measures, announced the Sindh livestock and fisheries department in a notification issued on Sunday.
According to the notification the Karachi Fish Harbour Authority (KFHA) will ensure that the Sindh government’s standard operating procedures (SOPs) are adhered to by all stakeholders involved, in order to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Therefore, all fishermen and employees at the harbour have been directed to practice social distancing, wear masks and gloves, and use sanitizers.
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7:10pm: Govt to tighten lockdown in DHA, old city areas amid rise in Covid-19 cases
Keeping in view the rise in number of Covid-19 cases, the administration of Karachi’s South district has decided to tighten the lockdown in the Defence Housing Authority (DHA) and old city areas.
The local administration has also decided to set up a 100-bed isolation centre at Lyari General Hospital to treat patients of Covid-19. Besides, four more isolation centres would be established at Dr Ruth Pfau Civil Hospital in the next phase.
Around 300 people have been tested positive for novel coronavirus in the district so far while 70 of them have already recovered from the mysterious disease.
This was conveyed in a meeting chaired by South Deputy Commissioner Irshad Sodhar and attended by senior police officials of the district along with senior medical consultants of South City private hospital on Sunday.
Read more here
6:30pm: One more tests positive for Covid-19 in AJK as tally rises to 49
With one more person testing positive for coronavirus in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) on Sunday, the total number of Covid-19 patients has surged to 49 in the state.
There are 40 active cases of coronavirus as nine persons have been discharged from hospitals after full recovery.
The new patient is a 70-year-old man who has recently arrived in the state from mainland.
5:00pm: 132 new cases bring Punjab’s Covid-19 tally to 3,686
The Punjab healthcare department has reported 132 new cases, taking the province’s total tally to 3,686.
The department noted that so far 41 people have died of the coronavirus in the province, whereas 701 have recovered.
People are requested to protect themselves by taking preventive measures, said the spokesperson of Punjab’s Primary and Secondary Healthcare Department in a statement.
3:40pm: Pakistan in a position to export sanitisers, says Fawad Chaudhry
Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry said we should be proud of our institutions and professionals for their work during the pandemic.
“Today we are in a position to export sanitisers. We are also making our own masks and protective clothing for doctors,” he tweeted.
ہمیں پاکستانی اداروں اور پروفیشنلز پر فخر ہونا چاہئے جس طرح کرونا بحران میں انھوں نے کر دکھایا ہے، ہم آج Sanitizer ایکسپورٹ کرنے کی پوزیشن میں ہیں، ماسک ہم اپنے بنا رہے ہیں حتیٰ کہ N95 ماسک بھی بنانے کے بہت قریب ہیں، ڈاکٹرز کے دستانے، ڈاکٹرز کے لباس ہم نے اپنے بنائے ہیں
— Ch Fawad Hussain (@fawadchaudhry) April 19, 2020
3:00pm: ‘Highest number of deaths in a day so far’
Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah said the province recorded its highest number of deaths in a day, after eight people lost their lives to the deadly virus.
In the past 24 hours, 182 new cases emerged in the province, raising the provincial tally to 2,537.
The total number of tests conducted in Sindh today were 1,520, he added.
Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah says coronavirus claimed 8 lives today ….. pic.twitter.com/WxtTnSgjZd
— CMHouseSindh (@SindhCMHouse) April 19, 2020
2:20pm: Total number of recoveries in Punjab at 684
Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar said 29 more patients in Lahore have tested negative and been discharged.
206 patients from Lahore have fully recovered, raising the total number of recoveries in the province to 684.
29 more #COVID19 patients from Lahore have tested negative & Discharged. So far 206 patients from Lahore have fully recovered taking total recoveries in Punjab to 684.
We appreciate our frontline workers for their tireless efforts. InshAllah we will be able to avert this crisis!
— Usman Buzdar (@UsmanAKBuzdar) April 19, 2020
2:00pm: Federal govt introduces hoarding ordinance amid pandemic
Minister for Law and Justice Farogh Naseem said the government has introduced a hoarding ordinance.
The new ordinance contains a three-year sentence, summary trial and confiscation of material for hoarding of wheat, sugar, flour, ghee, sanitisers, face masks and other essential commodities.
1:45pm: SAPM says decision to allow congregational prayers is a test for Ulema
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan said the decision to allow congregational prayers and Taraweeh in Ramazan is a test for the Ulema.
Awan said the federal government is pursuing a strategy to contain the spread of the virus and control the risk of unemployment.
1:00pm: NDMA delivers third shipment of medical equipment to doctors
The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) sent its third shipment of medical equipment to doctors in hospitals across the country.
Medical equipment, including 34,500 surgical masks, 962 N95 masks, 6,929 protective suits, 3,161 gloves and 175 pairs of intensive care unit (ICU) shoes were dispatched to Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) early morning.
In addition, 4,958 surgical caps, 3,767 shoe covers and 1,577 protective gowns were delivered.
The NDMA also delivered 2,000 bio-hazard suits, 500 body bags and 50 safety boxes.
The rest of the provinces will recieve their shipment within the next 24 hours.
12:30am: Senator Murtaza Wahab says we must readjust our way of living
Adviser to Sindh chief minister Murtaza Wahab said in order to deal with the coronavirus, we must readjust our way of living.
As recommended by doctors, we must wash our hands before touching our mouth, nose and eyes, he added.
To deal with #COVIDー19, we will have to readjust our way of living. As suggested by docs, we need 2 wash our hands regularly especially before we touch our mouth,nose & eyes. It is also advised 2 consume more water & hot liquids.I hve replaced tea with hot water & lemon. Love it
— SenatorMurtaza Wahab (@murtazawahab1) April 19, 2020
12:15pm: Senator Murtaza Wahab compares tests done in four provinces
Adviser to Sindh chief minister Murtaza Wahab posted inter-provincial comparative statistics of the coronavirus response.
He said 90 per cent of tests in Sindh are being sponsored and funded by the Sindh government.
Table below shows the comparison of tests done in the 4 provinces per million people. The information given is as of 17th April. I may further add that 90% of the tests in Sindh are being sponsored & funded by #SindhGovt pic.twitter.com/L2lAvoFjJw
— SenatorMurtaza Wahab (@murtazawahab1) April 19, 2020
11:50am: US to provide three mobile labs, fund high tech emergency centres in Pakistan
In a letter to Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Shehbaz Sharif, US Ambassador Paul Jones reiterated US support against the coronavirus.
He said the US would provide three mobile labs to Pakistan and fund high tech emergency centres in Sindh, Punjab, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan and Islamabad for disease monitoring and response.
Read more here.
10:30am: K-P’s tally stands at 1,137
Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Health Minister Taimur Khan Jhagra reported 62 new cases, raising the provincial tally to 1,137.
In the past 24 hours, 10 persons succumbed to the virus and the total number of deaths in the province stands at 60.
Amongst the latest deaths, four were reported in Peshawar, four in Swat, one each in Abbottabad and Mardan.
Pakhtunkhwa #coronavirus update, April 18.
Total cases 1137, including 62 new.
Total deaths 60, sadly including 10 deaths confirmed in last 24 hours including 4 in Peshawar, 4 in Swat, & 1 each in Abbottabad and Mardan. pic.twitter.com/0Bt5A8AUXz
— Taimur Khan Jhagra (@Jhagra) April 19, 2020
10:10am: DRAP permits manufacturing of sanitisers
The Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) has allowed 333 more companies to manufacture sanitisers, while rejecting 61 others.
In total, DRAP has allowed 481 companies to produce sanitisers.
10:00am: NDMA to distribute 100,000 test kits tomorrow
The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) will distribute 100,000 testing kits amongst all the provinces by tomorrow.
NDMA Lt General Muhammad Afzal said 50 laboratories are working across the country and conducing over 6,000 tests regularly.
9:45am: Nationwide tally stands at 7,993
After Punjab reported 145 fresh cases and Islamabad reported eight more, the nationwide tally raised to 7,993 cases.
The government portal confirmed 16 deaths in the last 24 hours, raising the total number of deaths in the country to 159.
7,847 tests were conducted in the past 24 hours.
9:00am: Awan welcomes President Arif Alvi’s Ramazan decisions
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan welcomed President Dr Arif Alvi’s decision to allow congregational prayers and Taraweeh in the month of Ramazan.
In a tweet, the special assistant said taking precautionary measures is essential to mitigate the spread of the virus.
8:30am: Special quarantine train to be established today
Pakistan Railways will establish a special quarantine train comprising of 30 coaches in Balochistan today.
Minister for Railways Sheikh Rashid said the train will have two medical coaches in case of an emergency.
Rs12,000 and ration bags will also be distributed to railway coolies, he added.